Empowering Research: Prevent Your Water from Breaking Early

Prevent Your Water Breaking EarlyEvery year at least one of my clients has an induction for PROM, premature rupture of membranes. Premature rupture of membranes is when your water breaks before you have contractions, after 37 weeks. It is natural for your water to break during labor, and for most mothers and babies it is a welcome sign of progress toward the moment of birth! But when it happens before your contractions and contractions don’t follow shortly after, it can be the beginning of a stressful series of decisions and interventions.

How does vitamin C increase the strength of my amniotic sac?

Vitamin C is involved in the creation of collagen, which is a tough fiber in the amniotic sac. The theory is that increased vitamin C will support the healthy development of strong collagen in the sac, which in turn prevents early tears.

It is also possible that minor infections, too insignificant to cause other symptoms, weaken the sac. Vitamin C may be a protective factor against these infections because it boosts the immune system.

How much do I take?

The most common recommendation is to take 100mg of vitamin C per day, beginning at 20 weeks gestation and continuing until you deliver. Anytime you are considering a supplement in pregnancy, your doctor or midwife can council you as to the benefits, risks, and appropriate dosages.

Does is matter what form of vitamin C I use?

I am not aware that any form is more effective than another. However, most natural supplement retailers recommend vitamin C in the form of mineral ascorbates rather than ascorbic acid. Mineral ascorbates are pH neutral (non-acidic) and have no adverse side effects unlike high levels of ascorbic acid, which may cause heartburn, nausea, flatulence, diarrhea, and excess urination, inducing loss of minerals. That being said, the recommendation for 100mg of vitamin C per day is not a high dose of vitamin C, and you may find that your prenatal vitamin (if you take one) already includes this amount.

Are there any studies to verify the effectiveness of taking Vitamin C?

Yes. In 2005, 109 women participated in a study where half of them took 100mg of vitamin C daily from week 20 through when they gave birth. 24% of the women who did not take vitamin C experienced early rupture of membranes, while this occurred in only 7% of those who did take the vitamin C.

The reference for this particular study follows. There may be others.

Vitamin C supplementation to prevent premature rupture of the chorioamniotic membranes: a randomized trial.
Casanueva E, Ripoll C, Tolentino M, Morales RM, Pfeffer F, Vilchis P, Vadillo-Ortega F. 
Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Apr;81(4):859-63.

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